Emulsify your business

A company’s data resembles a salad bar. Just as we make or order a salad with the ingredients we want, then toss it, and add dressing, we sort of do the same with data — we pull together disparate, silo’d data into a database or data mart, perform some form of analytics or segmentation, and then apply the insights accordingly.
Oil and vinegarBut I think a more interesting place to focus is on the dressing. Most salad dressings are emulsions — a mix of two or more liquids (such as oil and vinegar) — that don’t normally mix. In order to serve customers better, we need to emulsify intelligence — bring together disparate information to generate new contextual insight. And, we need to do it in fractions of an instant. An emulsion approach would combine data about everything from devices, to people’s interests, mindset, historical behavior, current need, location, to the company’s inventory and pricing, and to other factors such as time of day or weather, to determine what action to take in relation to a customer.
 These data would be emulsified in an instant to drive decisions. And just like an ingredient such as vinegar could be used to make salad dressing or mayonnaise, the output – or decision – will depend on all of the ingredients that are blended.
And, this approach applies throughout the business. It’s not just about data. It’s an interesting way to think about many of the elements within a business that are traditionally immiscible (fancy big word I found when researching emulsions) – customer and corporate needs; marketing and IT; physical and digital; static and mobile.
Unlike making a salad dressing though, there’s no way to put the ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously to emulsify them. It will require a deliberate focus and a significant change in culture and process within most organizations. It will require systems to be architected differently. It will force us to measure differently. But, done right, it will make us more nimble, more relevant, and more effective as businesses.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, but I intend to think about it a lot more in the next few weeks – expect more posts on the topic.

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